It’s been over a month since my summer internship and I’m back to reflect on my experience and give an update on what I’m doing now.
Last summer, I worked as a summer intern for the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology lab at the University of California, San Francisco. Contrary to the UROP at Imperial, their summer internship program was extremely structured. There was a set schedule every day and very little autonomy was given for the research you worked on or how the internship was conducted. This summer, immediately after the first meeting with Martina, my supervisor, I knew it would be a completely different experience. I was given a lot of independence on which project in Martina’s lab that I worked on and the amount and type of work that I did. The project autonomy and flexibility I received was empowering and refreshing, although it might not be suitable for everyone. Last year, I felt like an intern for a lab, but this year, I genuinely felt like a member of their research team.
One of the major learning experiences I retained from my summer internship was using factor analysis in practice. For those who don’t know factor analysis is a statistical method that is used to reduce a large number of variables to a few number of factors through extracting the common variances among them. It was a concept that had shown up repeatedly throughout my courses, but I had still struggled to comprehend. This is what motivated me to ask my supervisor to work on the data analysis of the Future Imagery Scale which mainly utilises factor analysis. This internship gave me the opportunity to validate a real scale that is being developed through applying factor analysis and gain a deeper understanding of what this concept is used for, its goals, and how to run it on statistical software.
After my official internship ended, I decided to continue working with my supervisor’s lab but on a less regular basis. Currently, I am helping the team finish the sample for the iMAGine study which is the main project that I had been working on all summer. I’m also analysing and checking data for iMAGine and am continuing to work on the data analysis and writeup for the Future Imagery Scale which I will hopefully be able to publish with them within the next year.
Overall, I really enjoyed my internship experience and would highly recommend anyone interested in research to conduct a UROP. With this kind of experience, you would be able to learn more than what you can learn through the courses at University (even the lab practicals) as you are given independence and none of the material is contrived.
Additionally, you’re interning for much longer than the length of a practical which allows you the time to delve into the subject that you are interested in and become skilled in different types of research methods and analysis.